Brazil vs Serbia
It’s clear as to why Brazil looks to be such a strong pick for the eventual winners of FIFA’s flagship event. Tite’s band of talented individuals have lost just once since the beginning of 2020, winning 24 of their last 29 games.
They went unbeaten in qualifying, with 14 wins from their 17 games, and eventually finished a comfortable 6 points clear of second place Argentina.
Brazil’s goalscoring capabilities are also frightening, hardly surprising when you have the likes of Neymar at your disposal.
They notched up 40 goals in qualifying for the tournament, with 15 different scorers, and scored 2 or more goals in 11 of their 17 qualification fixtures. They even managed a minimum of 3 goals in 9 of these 17 games.
An xG of 1.97 P/90 emphasises the level of creativity and talent that is rife throughout this squad.
Perhaps even more significant than their attacking output, is their defensive stability. Brazil conceded just 5 goals in CONMEBOL qualification. Their xGA 1.03 P/90 in World Cup qualifying is again testament to their defensive capability.
Opponents Serbia conceded 9 goals in 8 games on their way to the World Cup finals, including 2 in one game against the Republic of Ireland. Even Azerbaijan managed a goal both home and away against them.
They conceded a further 5 against sides of a lower quality than Brazil in their 6 Nations League games this year, and began 2022 with a 3-0 defeat to Denmark.
The absence of Alexander Mitrovic could also be damning for Serbia. The Fulham frontman has been in scintillating form, and scored 6 of his country’s 13 goals in the 2022 Nations League.
The quality of Brazil should shine through in this one, as they look to kick off their world Cup campaign with a win.
Serbia averaged 2 cards per game in World Cup Qualifying, and escaped the referee’s book just once, that being in their 3-1 victory against Azerbaijan.
They also received a card in each of their Nations League matches, accumulating 2.5 cards per game.
Serbia cards in last 5 competitive fixtures: 2, 3, 3, 4, 1
Brazil are masters at drawing fouls, and the technical brilliance of their forwards should result in a fair few late challenges from the Serbians.
Tite’s side saw an average of 3.65 cards against them in World Cup Qualifying, and there is every chance that we see more of the same in this one.
Brazil’s opponents were carded in each of their 17 qualifying fixtures, with their opponents receiving at least 2 cards in all but 1 game.
Brazil cards against in last 5 competitive fixtures: 2, 3, 3, 3, 4
Alireza Faghani is the man in the middle, and he averages 4.93 cards per game in domestic fixtures, and 4.00 cards per game internationally.